Here’s everything I remember about Tracton’s, a restaurant my family frequented for many years: It was on La Cienega down near Rodeo, across from what was then a Fedco membership department store (we were members) and is now a Target.  The place was friendly inside and they served big hunks of meat.  I usually had the chopped steak, which was basically just a very thick hamburger patty.  I also remember an odd argument with a waitress once when my aunt asked for a doggie bag so she could take the rest of her dinner home and the waitress accused her of not having a dog.  Which was true.  My aunt didn’t have a dog but what business was that of the waitress?

I also remember that when Tracton’s closed, the building became one of those places that’s a different restaurant every time you drive by as one after another goes out of business.  Finally, one closed down and stayed closed for a couple years until the building was torn down.  And that’s all I remember about it.

Research has yielded the info that it was opened and owned by a gent named Harold “Red” Tracton who played host to all sorts of L.A. notables, mobster-types included. There was also a Tracton’s downtown and he operated the Buggy Whip restaurant near LAX (and still in business), the Salem House which was in the Farmers Market and the restaurant at the Fox Hills Country Club. Before that, he had Norm and Red’s Green Lake Cafe out in Pasadena. The most famous of all these — the Tracton’s on La Cienega that my family visited — opened there in 1956, then moved to Encino in ’78. In 1988, that place was sold and is now a Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurant. Red moved to Del Mar and opened a restaurant that’s still open (and quite successful) as Red Tracton’s, operated by his daughter Tracy. Red passed away in 1999 but his tradition of serving big hunks of meat continues.

92 Responses to Tracton’s

  • Stephen Lipson says:

    Not only do I remember Tracton’s my family had a small diner next-door called Crossroads. We moved north when we lost our lease to make way for Security National bank in later years it became Wells Fargo Bank now a parking lot. At the time we were next door to Tracton’s across the street on the west side there was a golf course driving range. In 1961 the golf course driving range made way for Fedco now Target.

    Our second diner Lou’s Coffee Shop moved north to La Cienega and Blackwelder. At the time we opened next door to us was Tri-State plumbing. In the early 1960’s Laifittte’s restaurant open its doors at the Tri-State plumbing site. Currently JR’s B-B-Q occupies my building.

  • Monte Merken says:

    My previous post referred to the “Witches Stand” as the restaurant cited on Crenshaw but it was actually on Slauson while “Poor Richards” was on Crenshaw (with the trains mounted near the ceilings).

  • Monte Merken says:

    Also grew up in B.H. My Winter ‘60 B.H.E. still have reunions which started about 20-30 years ago from a combined reunion for B.H.E., Dorsey H.S. & the surrounding Jr. H. Schools (mine was Audubon). My first date, Carol Ross has written two update/ books “The Days of Milk & Cookies” recounting our subsequent get togethers & adventures including an assembly at B. H. E. I think the restaurant alluded to on Crenshaw was The Witches Stand. Also, remember the miniature trains running that were mounted on the ceiling. Those were the days! My friend Bob Byrne and I hiked up to see what was left of the dam the day after it collapsed only to be sent away by the police. We also used to explore the old army base at the top of the hill of Baldwin Hills which still had the artillery placements dug in which I believe were once pointed toward the beaches. I was involved in the performances at Audubon with my (unknown at the time first spouse, Sharon Brown). Attended parties at my friend Linda Caine’s home on Glenford just below the top of the hill near the motorcycle paths. Linda & I recently completed a duet of Billy Preston’s (who also attended Audubon). I was stuck at home after the dam collapse & unable to attend & perform at a combined choral performance at Hollywood High School (I was representing Hamilton H.S. & missed out on my duet of “April in Paris.”) It was a few weeks after J.F.K. was shot! So many great times at Rodeo Bowl, cruising the Sunset Strip, Ladera Heights. Years later I would run into boxer Ken Norton on La Cienega where we would informally race my yellow Porsche 924 & his white Clinet and occasionally stop for a cup of coffee at Tracton’s. (I guess the lighting was more secluded there than Pepy’s which was caddy corner across the street at La Cienega & Rodeo RD.) This was late on Friday night when I completed my insurance accounts and he was returning from Red Foxx’s Club off Stocker & Slauson.

  • Neal Elkind says:

    Loved Tracton”s. Parked cars there in 1968, and there was a man that would come in on a Friday with a beautiful 1969 Brown Cadillac, just immaculate.
    Supposedly the restaurant was also a front for call girls, and some of the ladies i saw there sure could have been, but this man was so cool he always gave a $100 tip.

  • Betty Ng says:

    Hi, I used to work at Tracton’s and at the Buggy Whip restaurant as well.
    Red Tracton and papa Tracton Ted, there were good bosses to work for, had great time serving the rich and famous customers, made good tips there, the restaurant was famous for Prime Ribs and Stone Crabs. had a lot of Hollywood celebrities dined at the restaurant often.
    later when they moved to Encino, I was so Sad, no more job for me, then went to work at the Buggy Whip and Mr. Paul and Red Tracton were good friends. so the customers went over to the Buggy Whip and had nice Big cut of Prime there.

  • Rob says:

    Regarding Jim’s comments on CC Browns: lawry’s bought the rights to the name as well as the original recipe for the hot fudge. Glad that they serve that nostalgic sundae at theur lawry’s locations

  • John Vanden Heuvel says:

    There has only ever been one restaurant that outlived and out lasted them all.
    They did however move locatations.
    The Dal Rae.
    The Buggy Whip was good, Tractons was great, Poor Richards was fun,
    Ascot let you cook your own steaks! Ernies on the Hill had every pro in sports
    Drinking there. The Hamburger Handout was the greatest fast food joint.
    Tai Ping, Hungry Tiger, Chicken Delight, and if you were a card player you went to the Kings X or Hyatt House. The cockatoo for a cocktail or the Roost.
    Westchester was home, Hawthorne airport was where dad kept the plane,
    Howard Hughes was still landing below our house on Firebrand at his private
    Airport in the fifties. The only restaurant I can’t remember had monkeys
    Behind glass that often did disgusting things!
    Most are gone, along with Baldwin Hills Hospital…

  • Kevin Topalian , Abajian says:

    Hi everyone , a lot of memories coming back with this page. Im Kaye and Checkers son . . Don is my Uncle. Would be great to hear from everyone , the good old days indeed Little Kathy . . im on facebook

  • Cheryl says:

    Anyone have the recipe for their Green Goddess Dressing? Would love to have it.

  • Gary Miller says:

    Wow! Love the comments on Tracton’s and Buggy Whip. Many good meals and times there. I have been trying to remember the name of a drive-in restaurant at the SW corner of West Slauson Ave and Crenshaw Blvd. Nothing great about it, average or below food, sometimes crusied it when Wich Stand was not so populated – in the late 50s and 60s. The Mesa Theater was right around the corner on Crenshaw. Both are long gone, recently Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in that area.

  • Jim says:

    I had dinner with the family at Lawry’s on La Cienega last night and started thinking back on prime rib I had many years ago at a restaurant that had once been located near the old Fedco. I could picture the restaurant, and the name Tracton’s came to mind, but I wasn’t positive. Found your site today and it cleared some of the fog from the memory banks. Thanks for posting. By the way, Lawry’s serves a dessert called the C.C. Brown Hot Fudge Sundae. Remember going on dates to Grauman’s Chinese Theater back in the 60s, and after the movie, walking down the block to C.C. Brown’s Ice Cream Parlor for a sundae. The Lawry’s sundae tasted the same as C.C. Brown’s and it brought back old memories. I grew up near the Buggy Whip and enjoyed many meals there from childhood through adult. Sorry to say the Buggy Whip is no more. It has been torn down to make way for more of the monstrous condo eyesores that are popping up all over the area.

  • Denyse says:

    Thanks for the reminder of Tracton’s, the Buggy Whip and Panns. I went there many times in the late 60s onward. As Thomas Landry asked, when I lived in Marina del Rey in the early 80s I went to Admiral’s Dinghy often. But my favorite was Jake’s in Playa del Rey. Anyone remember it? Best bone-in prime rib I have ever had, to date. Went there once a week.

  • Denyse says:

    Love that this feed reminded me of Tracton’s, the Buggy Whip and Panns. Went there many times when living in Laurel Canyon and Santa Monica. My last abode in LA area was our condo in Westchester, walking distance to Panns. Also lived for several years on Bora Bora in Marina del Reyin the early 80s and went to Admiral Dinghy’s often as Thomas Landry asked. But my favorite was Jakes’s in Playa del Rey. Best bone-in prime rib I have ever had, to this day. Went there at least once a week. Anyone remember Jake’s? The Shack across the street is still there, but last time I was in LA Jake’s was a vacant lot.

  • JT says:

    Vince & Paul’s steakhouse. My grandparents were part owner in the 1950’s.

  • Barbara Hettler says:

    I, too, remember Tractons. Loved their green godess dressing salad. So much food that we always took home a “doggy bag” and my daughter and her best friend who was sleeping over, would eat our left overs for breakfast. Barbara Hettler

  • Neil Claiborne says:

    Does anyone remember “Ricart’s” restaurant in Los Angeles, 1950′ era ?

    Roast Prime Ribs of Beef, au Jus $ 3.75 “OR” Jim Brady Cut $ 4.95.

    Wow it was Great and what a Bargain !

    Sunday Special was Soup du Jour or Salad, w/ Boneless Breast of Chicken, w/
    Country Gravy, Potatoes, Hot Biscuits, and Beverage all for $ 2.25.

    I have a original menu, if any one would like it. Contact me.

  • Redhead from San Diego says:

    I use to go there in the 70’s when I had a friend who worked for Western Airlines. Loved Admiral Dinghy’s Crab Dish and have the recipe or at least the best I could get, scribbled on a bar napkin. I am making it today for my husband as a treat for Father’s Day. Crab is hard to come by now and have not made it in years. Don’t like to use the imitation stuff and bought frozen Wakefield(?) crab back when – no longer can I find that. Now I have the canned stuff and hope it works to satisfaction.

    Oh my! Those were fun days……

  • Jerry Wall says:

    I took my wife there on a date when they were in the West Valley next to Auto Steigler Mercedes. The food was superb and enough for a doggie bag. We had been there again in later years and mourned their demise.

  • John Engstrom says:

    Mark Evanier – I am surprised you have no restaurant listing for the Buggy Whip. Right era, and based on others, right locale.

    Richard Calvo – Although Tracton’s and its sibling restaurant the Buggy Whip, no longer exist, and Pepy’s no longer exists, Pepy’s owners also owned Pann’s (at La Tijera and La Cienega) and that restaurant still exists.

    John Hindsell – Real Green Goddess does not contain Avocado. Never has. It does contain anchovies, though.

    Randall Tobin – I was at that reunion, too. I agree, lot’s of fun.

  • Richard Calvo says:

    Remember both the Buggy Whip and Tractons as they were both owned at one time by Red Traction. The Buggy Whip however was my wife and I ‘s favorite with those Florida Stone Crabs, the Prime Rib, the Green Goddess dressing, and the rich Chocolate Mousse and Buggy Whip coffee for dessert. Oh, I miss is so much. My wife and I started going there when we were dating. It closed in November, 2013 and is now just cement, you can see the outline of everything in the cement. Another landmark place…gone but wonderful memories. Also remember Pepy’s Coffee Shop and Roman room on Rodeo and La Cienega, almost directly across from Tractons.

  • Richard Calvo says:

    I so fondly remember the Buggy Whip and Tractons. At one time they were both owned by Red Tracton as the floor mat to the entrance of the Buggy Whip said Tracton’s. I spent many dates with my wife before we were married at “The Whip” as everyone called it with those famous Florida Stone Crabs, the Prime Rib, the Green Goddess dressing, and the rich Creme de Cacao chocolate mousse and Buggy Whip coffee for dessert. Um-m-mm! Spent time at Tracton’s as well but not as much as the BW was our favorite place. The other nice restaurant in Westchester was the Cavalier on Manchester and Airport Blvd. It was much smaller but good and after it closed a lot of the workers went to go work at the Whip. I remember Ray the mait’r’de there for many years. Even Paul Dericarrere the owner came to talk to my wife and I saying he may have to sell the place due to rising prices and less people coming in. Well, he sold to people who drove the place into the ground so with higher prices and subpar food, the restaurant closed and is now totally nothing but cement and the parking lot is now a Park and Ride. And to think, in 2003, it was voted LA’s best steakhouse. So sad, but many wonderful memories!

  • John Hindsill says:

    Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says: ” …it is a mystery to me why Green Goddess dressing is not common today…” There are several ‘goddess’ dressings in the marketplace (Annie’s comes readily to mind), but apparently they do not contain AVACADO, so I guess not ‘green’. That is also true at a local restaurant in La Canada (canyada) we frequently go to. So I guess the mystery continues.

  • sharon brannon says:

    I think Tracton’s was in the garment mart in downtown Los Angeles. My mother worked there.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    Alas Kathryn, do I dare respond? On the one hand, my last Vieja was a so named Kathryn, albeit actually “Princess”… if ya get my drift!
    On the other hand, my Babcia was also a Kathrine and my Bestest of high School Steadies was Kathy, albeit ala Kathleen. Be all that as it may, it is a mystery to me why Green Goddess dressing is not common today, given how it was apparently for you…as well as for me,” back in the day”!
    Lo, I’m guessing it was the Anchovy Factor that Folks couldn’t swallow…sorta speak. Heavens to Murgatroyd!
    Just finely diced, those salty suckers made for some great flavoring…a treat! OMG! what they might do for a Pepperoni with Green Chile Pizza is beyond belief! Whoa…imagine some GG for dipping for anything….BBQ BB Ribs!!! Wings!!!

  • kathryn Bogie says:

    I have been looking everywhere for the Green Goddess salad dressing recipe. Nothing tastes like the one they made at Tracton’s. I worked at Sunset House, next to Fedco and See’s Candy and went to Tracton’s a lot. I also lived in Pasadena and went to Norm’s on Green Lake. I think his daughter runs Tractons’ in Del Mar near the race track. i have not been there. I called and twas told they had the green goddess dressing/salad.

  • Don Storm says:

    I regret that during the entire time I lived in Baldwin Hills I never made it to Tracton’s. But of course it was always a landmark there on La Cienega…the first restaurant on L.A.’s Restaurant Row (anybody remember Laffite’s which was just a few blocks north?). My parents didn’t take us to restaurants all that much. I remember my Mom being sick once and my Dad splurging by taking me to Pepy’s for dinner one night. We all went to Baldwin Hills Elementary School, survived The Flood of 1963, the brush fires, etc. I recognize a lot of the names mentioned in previous posts. My family lived on Veronica Street and we were close with the Perkins family on Weatherford and the Joneses on Orange Drive. My sister was friends with Bill O’Rullian, Kit Perkins, Peter Wilmarth, Danny Elfman. My older brother Bill was close to Vince Pino and Glen Weiss. Those were some terrific times. I think, as kids, we took Baldwin Hills for granted and didn’t realize what a truly wonderful and historical place it was. I really miss it (I live in Chicago now).

  • Roger Riffkind says:

    WOW! I remember “Red” Tractons on LaCienega like it was yesterday. Probably, the best L.A. restaurant of all time. No better prime rib anywhere! That was 50 years ago! And, yes, I do remember Randy Tobin who posted here on June 28, 2017. In fact, I dated his sister, Maureen. A class act all the way. I also remember Randy Lubin. We hung out at Rodeo Bowl next door to Tractons and I remember smelling that Prime Rib as it cooked away in the afternoon getting ready for the dinner crowd. Randy is right on-Fedco was by far a super store. I’ll always remember Tractons, the old Rodeo Bowl crowd, and yes, my love Maureen.

  • Bob Borgen says:

    I have a great memory of sitting and drinking with Harry Nilsson (with a brandy glass ordered in honor of his friend Ringo) on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death in 1981.

  • Randall Michael Tobin says:

    Wow… just happened to find this post while searching for Poor Richard’s restaurant in Ladera Heights. I lived in the house on Bowesfield where our back yard and Tracton’s parking lot were separated by a cinder block wall which I used to hop over whenever I wanted to go to Rodeo Bowl (which was nearly every day!). Our neighbor in the corner house was James Consalvo, who ran the valet parking operation. James’ dad was a handyman and maintained parts of the restaurant using his cool wood shop in his garage. When I was old enough to drive, I got a job parking cars at Tracton’s. One time I got a $100 tip from a guy who had an old beat-up station wagon! (I got to keep $95 of that tip.) Getting to work and home again didn’t get any easier! My folks would eat at Tracton’s on occasion and I loved stealing a bite from the doggie bags that usually came home after their dinner. I (and my brother and 4 sisters) lived in that house from 1960 to 1971. Went to Baldwin Hills elementary and hung out with Danny Elfman, Randy Levin, Randy Lubin, Jeff Reich, Mirek Szadkowski and Bill O’Rullian. Believe it or not, BHE had a combined 50/51 year reunion August 2016 and over 80 people showed up! It was the best reunion EVER! The next day was a special Reunion BBQ Picnic at Kenneth Hahn park and Danny was there. As for FEDCO, that was the BEST store EVER! In later years I shopped at the FEDCO stores in Pasadena and Van Nuys. Sad to see it go. Guess I’ll bookmark this page and see if any of my comments resonate with anyone.

  • Doug sherman says:

    He was my mom’s uncle. I did eat there with her in the 70s and recalled the green goddess dressing

  • Dale Marie says:

    To add to my above comment….My mom and I visited Blairs in the 60’s and 70’s.

  • Dale says:

    I, too remember Blair’s across from Robinson’s. My mom would take me as a young girl and we would order chicken sandwiches, tea and warm yellow cake with a chocolate fudge frosting. I miss Blair’s so much. My mom and I had many wonderful lunches there.

  • Lisa Hoffman ( My mom was Dee) says:

    My Mom worked at Tracton’s as a waitress in the late 1950’s. She had so many wonderful stories about “Red” and the celebrity clients. Red was very good to her ( my mom was a divorce! a big deal back then. She had 2 kids and ha no financial help from their dad) and often sent food home for her and my sister and brother. I’m sad I never got to ear there, but did have many meals at the Buggy Whip with my parents when I was young. It’s where I first had rack of lamb, one of my very favorite meals.

  • Dana Romo6 says:

    My dad Jack and Red were partners. Anyone remember him? He worked lunch and one night and week. He would take me there on Sunday mornings to help in the office.

  • John of Glendale says:

    Sue: I think the sandwich shop you are remembering was Blair’s Sandwich Shop. It was much closer to Robinson’s than to Bullock’s. The waitresses did indeed wear “uniforms.” Several of my co-workers and I had lunch there just a few days before it closed (early 1983, I believe). They were known for their egg salad sandwiches among other things (as you mentioned). My Grandmother used to eat lunch there in the Thirties when she would come Downtown from the Westside to shop at Robinson’s. Blair’s also had delicious bakery goods. I think I also picked up one of their great Caramel Layer Cakes to take home the day we were all there for lunch.

  • John of Glendale says:

    Hi Sue:

    I think the lunch cafe/restaurant you are remembering was Blair’s Sandwich Shop. The waitress did indeed wear uniforms. I remember eating there just before it closed (early 1983, I believe). It was very close to Robinson’s. My grandmother used to eat there in the Thirties when she would come Downtown from the Westside to shop at Robinsons. They also had delicious bakery goods (such as a great caramel cake).

  • Thomas Lantry says:

    I’m looking for anyone who remembers the “Admiral’s Dinghy” restaurant and bar in Marina Del Rey. I believe in the 70’s or 80’s. I acquired a beautiful 3 in
    thick redwood sign approx 3ft x 4ft. The name is in relief on both sides, and
    there are the two original chains attached to the heads of the 3ft long bolts
    that are holding the 3 planks together.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    Alas….as a PostScript Sue, hope you are able to complete e.g. The Paradise via Netflix.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    Yo Sue: Per reading your Comment, “Clifton’s” popped into my head…don’t know why as I was a SC student who had no reason to be familiar with “downtown” except for my curiosity per coming from “back East”. Alas, Bullock’s was originally at Broadway and 7th (vs apparently being Burlington herein): Place your cursor under the red parking sign and while holding down the Left mouse button, move your mouse to the right.. Check out this history as well as this: Hope this is it as it sounds like the type of staff that would be there. Let us know one way or another! Bon Appetite!

  • sue says:

    Does anyone remember the lunch cafe in downtown Los Angeles, across the street from Bullocks? The waitresses were all 50 years plus, loyal employees who worked their for decades. They wore uniforms. It was not diner-ish but more of an upscale lunch location. I cannot remember the name of it but they had the best egg salad sandwich.

  • Phil Ehrens says:

    A popular joke with the local kids was “Tracton’s… Spell it backwards!”

  • Greg Irvine says:

    John Engstrom, you have the placement of the buildings correct. To the east was Rodeo Bowl and Pepy’s was kitty/corner and of course Fedco to the west & Atlantic Richfield station to the south across street..My mother worked at Tracton’s for 30 years. Also knew Teddy and Red and Bobby the manager for years.

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